The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER SATURDAY, AUGUST 7, 1880.
The Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill is one of those measures which the Legislature of the colony has to consider every session, and like its fellow annual, the Permissive or Local Option Bill, the majority in its favor is increasing every year. In f a vor of the Deceased Wife’s Sister Bill there is quite a strong majority in the House this session, and when we find forty-six ranged against fourteen there does not seem to be much hope for the minority offering a very successful opposition. Yet those fourteen oppositionists were equal to the task of obstructing business till half past two in the morning of Friday. All sorts of silly amendments were proposed, and all the around that has already been gone over a hundred times was re-covered by the opponents without throwing any new light on the right or wrong of tire principle of marrying the sister of one s deceased wife. But the Maori members who opposed the measure had something to say as an argument against the Bill that was rather fresh. Tamoana said that before the missionaries came to New Zealand it was perfectly legitimate for a M.aori to ;
take unto himself to wife the sister of his departed better' half. Now, however, those barbai’ous times had gone, and marriages were contracted on a different basis. Those Maoris who were so conservative of the barbarous customs of the past as to take to their bosom the sister of their deceased wife were those who ignored the Church, and refused to be. civilised. He would oppose the Bill because it seemed to him that the Europeans were making a retrograde movement in the direction of the habits and customs that the mis sionariea had taught the natives to abandon. Te Where, again, rejoiced in this Bill, for just the same reason that Tomoana deplored it. He was overjoyed at the notion of the white men relapsing to the state from which the noble savages had recently emerged. He had pleasing recollections of the Maori customs of the olden time, and he was much pleased w’ith the notion that his white brethren were to copy at least one of those customs that came so happily to his recollection. But the wily aboriginal would oppose the Bill notwithstanding. Tawhai said that to him, as a Maori, the Bill said—return, go back to your old customs, and this he was not prepared to do. These dark-skinned men and brethren seem to think they have found a flaw in the teaching of the missionaries, and though Sir George Grey has taught them the art of politics—viz., to do what your party find to bo expedient irrespective of right or conscience—and they oppose the Bill because their leaders have taught them to, they evidently think that white civilisation is advancing back to that of the dark-skin. It is palpable that the natives have got the religious and social aspect of the question somewhat mixed ; but from the telegraphic summary of the sitting that has reached us it is difficult to discover any real objectiou that the white opponents of the measure have to it. To our mind there seems to be none, beyond a prejudice, and this prejudice is being gradually broken down. As the Hon. John Hall says, the only places where the measure is not law are New Zealand and Great Britain. In nearly all other English speaking communities the prejudice against these marriages has been overcome, and sooner or later Great Britain must follow in the track of her children, the colonies, who hive, in very many instances, been her pioneers in advanced measures of freedom.